All-Male Baker to Vegas “Protectors” Try for Repeat Performance
A team of athletes from the Belize National Coast Guard, the Belize Police Department and the Belize Defense Force is headed to the United States next week to participate in the 2017 Challenge Cup/Baker to Vegas. The law enforcement officers will join other runners from across the U.S. in a relay race that is set to commence in Baker on March twenty-fifth. Last year, the Belize Protectors introduced a mixed team which performed exceptionally in its first outing. This year, it’s an all-male team. News Five’s Isani Cayetano spoke with B2V Coach Ian Gray in the following story.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
The Belize Protectors are gearing up once again to participate in the annual Baker to Vegas Challenge, a competition which they only just became a part of in 2016. The twenty-five member team has been working out diligently, preparing to represent the Jewel in the hundred and twenty mile relay.
Ian Gray, Coach, Belize National Team, B2V
“This is an all-male team as opposed to last year which was a mixed team which had seven females on it. We have members of the B.D.F., coastguard and the police. Most of the team comprises of athletes who were with us already last year. So we had a trial, we had two trials, one in October and one in December last year and we averaged out the best times for the eight mile run on the Western Highway and we took the twenty-five best averages.”
“Last year we did exceptionally well in terms of participating in this annual competition for the very first time and being able to complete the challenge successfully and rank among those who finished. What can we expect from an all-male team this year?”
“Well last year we finished sixth out of two hundred and ninety teams. That was with the females. This year we go back with an all-male team. It’s very difficult to say how we will do, you can’t predict that in sports but I’ll say we’ll do well. We’ve been training for the last seven months, training hard and training smart and diligently. So I expect that we’ll do well. I cannot give you a place or a time but we’ll be up there.”
“What is the vibe or energy this time around? I know that last year Belizeans were behind the team a hundred percent, seeing as though it was their foray into this kind of activity on the international scale. What is the energy like this time around going into Baker to Vegas?”
“Well, for the young athletes who are going for the second time, they are very jubilant. For the young ones who are coming in for the first time they are a bit nervous and, you know, uncertain. But rest assured that we have a team that will be very much competitive and we have a solid support group on Facebook, so like us on Facebook at Belize Protectors Association. We have a bunch of Belizeans who reside in the United States who also support us, so they are driving over to Vegas in order to render support as well.”
“Why is there not a mixed team this year?”
“We couldn’t get sufficient. We needed seven female athletes and we could not get seven to come out. Some who were with us last year have gone on to study or have had other obligations so they can’t come out. There are about fifteen different categories so we’re not too overly concerned that we’re not able to find seven females.”
The team departs the country on March twenty-second and returns on the twenty-eighth. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.